Busy in Brissy

Today’s blog post is coming to you from Busy-Brissy, where I have been loving the chance to connect with readers of all ages – and writing buddies, too. (Though I’ve also missed catching up with a couple, thanks Covid.😿)

Thank-you St Johns Year 7, and St Peters Yr 5 for the warm welcome and wonderful interactions with staff and students. (The snails and I appreciated it!)

At St Peters, every child had read at least one of my verse novels. (And some kids had read three!) Any author event is special, and I love that there are always standout moments in each session – but when kids have read so many of your works, they really understand how you tick… and their questions – their thirst for information! – reflect that. I started the session asking them what they like about verse novels… and they gushed wisdom. I wish I could recall word-for-word the beautiful ways they expressed their appreciation. I can’t. One gem; ‘I love how your words make pictures. You make me feel like I’ve stepped into the story.’ Their insights have filled my cup and reignited my passion.

 

Gems of Wisdom
(Inspired by students)

shape poetry
and imagery
draw readers
into the story

less words
all story

eyes follow
words;
placement places
(and paces)
readers
on the page

can’t miss

the feelings

Draft © Kathryn Apel

Following the third session on my second day, someone commented that I must be exhausted – but I was not! I was energised. I love the chance to share a passion for poetry with kids. (And I’m rather delighted that kids are as fascinated as I am, by snails.)

It was wonderful to meet the librarian who has written the (excellent!) Teachers’ Notes for my UQP books, Christina Wheeler. I’ve always said that if I was the teacher, using my books in the classroom, I would do exactly what Christina has done with my books in the Teachers’ Notes. (I just didn’t know it was Christina until recently.🙃)

And then it was just a hop, skip and jump to meet my publisher Clair Hume and publicist, Jean at UQP. (Wish we’d grabbed a pic, too!)

As if that wasn’t ticking enough boxes, I then got to follow it all up with cuppa and cake with one of my faves, the darling of Brisbane, Samantha Wheeler.

On Saturday, I start school holiday sessions with Brisbane Libraries, including; Toowong, Garden City, Ashgrove, Carindale, Holland Park, Mt Ommaney, Brisbane Square & West End. (Also Helensvale on the Gold Coast.) Bookings are essential, through relevant libraries, and sessions vary – so check to see what is offered, if you live in Brisbane. (Saturday session; Toowong (PB reading/farm themes) and Garden City (teens poetry workshop).

Aside from all this wonderful creative cup-filling, I have been filling my car with prayers (and thanksgiving) as I navigate city traffic in my beautiful little blue Rav. (I cannot tell you how many hours I have stressed this, over recent months!)

Staying Car-lm

Car navigation system
as clear as the confusion
of criss-crossing
carriageways.

Recalculating…

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting the Poetry Friday community this week. I look forward to popping in and out during my travels over the coming week – though I may not get to comment much, sorry. I will be on the hop – in that little blue Rav.💙 Stay safe!

Poetry Friday Round-up – Release Week

I cannot believe it is the first week in March already – and yet, here we are, with storms and floods ravaging large areas on the south-east coast of Australia and Ukraine digging deep to show incredible fortitude in the face of aggression. My heart has been heavy. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

And in amongst this turbulence, What Snail Knows slipped quietly into Australian bookshops – followed by beautiful, detailed reviews and so much love. I hadn’t expected such a response – and I am incredibly thankful for those who have taken the time to share. Here’s a little snippet from some of them. (Click the reviewer’s name to read each review in its entirety.) 

💗 Kim Yeoman: I am in awe once again of Kathryn Apel’s skill in weaving together similes, metaphors, alliteration, imagery, rhyme and shape poetry with compassion and creativity to tell Lucy’s story.

💗 Lamont: Lucy is a character that you will fall in love with from the start. This story will be thoroughly enjoyed by junior to middle primary level readers.

💗 Sandy Bigna: This beautifully constructed verse novel for younger readers gently illuminates themes of loneliness, belonging, kindness, friendship and family. It will both break your heart and make you smile. Highly recommended for your 7+ reader.

💗 Barbara Braxton: A most poignant verse novel… a potent story of loneliness, friendship, acceptance, and building and connecting with community.

Mandy Foots light pencil artwork bring Snail and Lucy to life.

To coincide with release week, I was interviewed on the Australian Alphabet Soup blog, so if you’re intrigued about the answer to any of these questions, click the pic to read more.

Australian readers can also leave a comment on UQP’s Facebook or Instagram giveaway posts for your chance to win a copy of the book.

And don’t forget to leave your links below, for the Poetry Friday round-up.

I’m looking forward to catching you all on the rounds.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Tickled Pink! (Pantone 212)

My goodness. The last few weeks have been rather a fizz of festivity. So many lovely things happening. Advance readers’ copies of ‘What Snail Knows’ have snuck out in the snail mail… And people are starting to say beautiful things. The first two reviewers ‘devoured’ it. (Which sort-of surprised me, since it is a gentle story. Surprised, but delighted me.)

💗 Allayne Webster; Just devoured this beautiful junior fiction…And oh my heartstrings.

💗 Megan Daley; ‘What Snail Knows’ is verse novel greatness and is full of such heart and soul that I had to devour it in one sitting.

💗 It scored a 5⭐️ review from Momo; ‘there is a raw emotional edge to this book. Your heart will break for Lucy but it will soar when you read about the kindness she encounters … This book is a perfect package.’

💗 Mr7 from @cec_loves_to_read, when asked if he liked it; ‘Yes, it was really good, I liked it, quite a lot actually, it was very good.’ His mum had some lovely things to say, too, including; ‘Highly, highly recommended.’

Is it possible for a heart to burst with too much happiness? Because there was more! This week we shared the cover for my upcoming picture book, Miss Understood.

This will be my first book published with Scholastic – who was the first publisher I submitted to… 20 years ago!

Reading the manuscript with Beau Wylie’s pencil illustrations had me laughing out loud the first time I saw them. I love his use of perspective. It’s a little outrageous and just perfect!

And then they added text to the pages… Oh my.

Tweaking and perfecting this book with the lovely Beck Young and Hannah Janzen (book designer) was such fun. The book is going to look a treat! (I have endpaper love.😻)

I am all the anticipation!

And look how pretty they look, side-by-side.💕

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Poetry Fridays Round-up at Small Reads for Brighter Days. Laura too is sharing new book joy. (Yay!) Pop across and read for yourself.

Speedy Snails!

Yay and hurray, there was speedy Snail mail in my letterbox this week – advance copies of my March release, What Snail Knows. (You can pre-order your copy here.) And, with the perfect prop, there were just a few photos snapped to mark the occasion. 🙂 (Snail has been waiting and waiting for her day of fame and she was keen to make the most of it! No other snails have had a look in.)

Excuse my damp and rumpled dress. It started drizzling at the letterbox, and I had to walk 1km clutching my parcel – so very grateful it was sent Express, because not only did it arrive super-fast, (Yay for speedy snails!) but it also had plastic packaging to protect it!😅

Here are some fave Snail pics, to mark the occasion. You can be pretty sure more will make an appearance, somewhere.

No new poetry today – but What Snail Knows is a verse novel! A companion story to Too Many Friends – this from the perspective of Lucy. The quiet one, who’s always alone… (So beautifully illustrated by Mandy Foot.)

Lucy and Dad move a lot, so it’s hard to make friends.

Lucy’s glad she has Snail, the perfect pet for a lonely girl. If only she had her own shell to hide in every time she started at a new school.

But this place is different. She likes her teacher, Miss Darling. She likes her classmates, especially Tahnee. She even likes Mei-hui’s van park, where she lives with Dad and Snail. This place feels like home. Can she convince her dad to stay?

If you are missing snail poems, you’ll find a selection of mine here

Or perhaps you’d enjoy this prompt, here to write your own snail (or other pet) poem. Perfect for kids, with their delayed start for school!

Talking of snails… the lovely Irene Latham has her own snail story releasing shortly; Snail’s Ark. (Yes! You definitely need that yellow dress, Irene!) Today Irene is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up at Live Your Poem. How perfect is that?

 

Wonder (of wonders, I am here!)

I’m becoming reacquainted with my computer after a break through the Christmas/New Year period. There are so many things I could post – but I just can’t yet pull those thoughts together, so for today, I’m keeping it simple with a poem (right) inspired by a moment of wonder I experienced this week.

My last post mentioned snail eggs. Well – I have since hatched four clutches of snails! But the tiny snails that hatched this week were a complete surprise – and so small, they almost escaped notice! There aren’t many – but I spotted T2 busily laying more eggs today…

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There are more bubba snail pictures on my Instagram page – and lots of other things, too, actually. 🙂 (I’m still basking in the beauty of yesterday’s sunset.) Click the montage to go directly and you’ll see I didn’t completely fall off the face of the earth, even though my blog was quiet.

And there are more poems on the Poetry Friday round-up, which you’ll find (with a jewel of a pomegranate poem) at https://ayearofreading.org.

Thanks Mary Lee for hosting the Poetry Friday crew this week. I made it! (Just…)

 

 

 

So Much Happening!

The past weeks have been huge here. Life has been huge – so many emotions. Including the overwhelming joy and wonder of rain! (That happened last Friday – and I am still rejoicing.)

watercolour landscape;
a new canvas
reflects the sky

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

During all that, I’ve been super-busy with final page proofs for my upcoming verse novel 🐌 – and cover design, internal spreads, and final pages for my next picture book🐺, releasing May 2022. What a (busy!) joy it has been to be bouncing between two such very different books. One sweet, gentle, heartfelt free verse. The other a jaunty rhyming picture book with humour and heart. (There will be a cover reveal coming soon for the picture book! Cannot wait to share it with you.) I’m thankful for all the wonderful people I get to work with in publishing, (or who work behind the scenes bringing their skills and passion to the project) and for the friendships I have developed. I truly am blessed and love this writing life!

You are all familiar with my pet snails – that I’ve had for more than 8 months now. I got them during the first week of edits for ‘What Snail Knows’. Which is why one of them is called Snail – for Lucy’s Snail in the book. (I was looking at pics today and am rather gobsmacked by how much Snail and T1 have grown in that time!) This week, on the day I sent my last little tweaks for Final Pages… this ⬇️⬇️⬇️ happened!

And I am all amazement!

Snail eggs! Baby snails are coming… 😮 Snail’s baby snails! 😲 I will keep you posted!!

To cap off a very busy week of all the feelings… Many, many years ago I wrote a poem for a class of Superkids. There have been soooo many Superkids since that time, but how lovely to see that the poem is still powering on! Click the pic below to watch the video.

My post is late – because… busy week!😜 But not too late to link into the Poetry Friday round-up, hosted by Michelle at Michelle Kogan. And not too late to squeeze one more thing into the busyness. I’ve a book event tomorrow morning, at the new Bundaberg Book Boutique! Hoping to see lots of Bundaberg kids there for a reading of ‘The Bird in the Herd’, and activities.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing!

This Post Comes With Cute Alert!

I’m thinking today must be my cutest post – ever! Because I’m sharing fellow Aussie kidlit author, Michael Gerard Bauer‘s adorable little granddaughter, reading ‘The Bird in the Herd’. She’s not even two!

I love the rock and read. And her adorable pronunciation. That expressive finish. And those precious moments of shared reading between Daddy and daughter. (So much love for that!) 💕

Let’s not dumb down our writing for kids. Let’s give them mouthfuls of words that they can chomp and chew, to extend their vocabulary and their knowledge of the world around them. And let’s give them rhythm and rhyme to roll with!

I’m super-grateful to doting Poppy Mike, who shared this video with me, so I can share it with you! And to Mummy and Daddy who have given their permission. This video is precious! (So is this little lass.) Thank-you.

Ruth at there is no such thing as a God-forsaken town has our Poetry Friday round-up today. I’m sharing a photo of the bird in the herd on a rainy day, for our little poppet, and also for Ruth, who loves birds. Praise the Lord, it is raining as I prep this post on Thursday.

Australian Verse Novel Resource – NCACL

The past many months I have been working on a project with the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature, and fellow verse novelist Sally Murphy, to create a resource related to Australian verse novels. I am so pleased to share that the project is complete – and far better than I ever imagined possible. In short, it looks amazing!

I am super-excited that the Australian Verse Novel Resource is now live! Australia has a rich history with verse novels, and it is so good to have a centralised jump-off point for readers and educators alike, to find and read more and more of these wonderful books. I’m also proud that this resource can fly a flag on the world’s stage, for a genre that Australia has championed for so long.

The resource will be launched (both in-person and online) by the highly respected Aussie author of many genres, Jackie French, AM. The 5pm AEDT launch time won’t work for friends in the Northern hemisphere – but the Australian Verse Novel Resource itself is timeless. And I most definitely recommend that you check it out!

 

The Australian Verse Novel Resource provides a comprehensive listing of titles, including; annotations, themes, useful resources, awards and Australian curriculum. The Resource is intended to help educators, librarians, readers and academics identify and explore Australian verse novels. I’m pretty confident it delivers. 🙂

In the lead-up to the launch I was interviewed by the lovely, knowledgeable and very generous Joy Lawn on her blog, Paperbark Words. It kind of feels like I’ve peeled back a portion of my skull, committing things to paper that I’ve not done before – but I so appreciate Joy’s questions and observations, and the way she had me both delving into the past, and considering future practises.

 

Be sure to have a cuppa on hand, because it is a longish read.🙃

And don’t forget to check out this week’s links for Poetry Friday at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Because you can never have too much poetry. Thanks, Matt.

Coming Soon! What Snail Knows

I am delighted to share the cover of my upcoming verse novel with you. Illustrated by Mandy Foot and published by UQP, What Snail Knows will be releasing March 2022 in Australia.

Some of the words that have been used to describe it thus far include; delicate, gorgeous and whimsical, pretty and fairytale. I’m utterly charmed. But don’t be fooled – because there’s toads and things inside! But mostly, there’s a sweet and sensitive little girl called Lucy. And Snail. So much Snail!💕

A moving verse novel for younger readers about a shy girl coming out of her shell with a little help from her pet snail.

Lucy and Dad move a lot, so it’s hard to make friends. Luckily, she has Snail, the perfect pet for a lonely girl. If only she had her own shell to hide in each time she started at a new school.

But this place is different. She likes her teacher, Miss Darling. She likes her classmates, especially Tahnee. She even likes Mei-hui’s van park, where she lives with Dad and Snail. This place feels like home. But can she convince her Dad to stay?

A story about making friends and finding where you belong.

Available for pre-order now, via the UQP website.

Special shout-out to the lovely Linda Mitchell, who messaged me offering to be a beta-reader at a time when I was swirling in doubts. If it wasn’t for you, this manuscript might still be hiding in the snail shell that is my computer. And that’s the truth! 💕

No poem from me today – just this gorgeous cover, and the promise of many more poems inside!

Mary Lee is hosting the Poetry Friday Round-up, which promises many more poems, too. You’ll find it here; https://ayearofreading.org. Thanks, Mary Lee!

What a Snail Shows

I was recently rearranging my snail home and (Gah!) dropped T1 … onto my tiled floor. My heart dropped, too, before I even saw the broken shell. We know what happens when things drop on tiles.

I was sure I had condemned T1 to a painful death. Such a significant portion of the new growth cracked off, exposing florid pink flesh. I started googling …  and behold! Snails can mend their shell. Quite quickly, in the right environment.

I always have eggshell and shell grit in their home – but I crushed more and added it, then added more moisture to the soil (so his body didn’t dry out) …  popped the vented lid on …  and voilà! Five days later the shell had regrown. It was only thin – and there was an obvious line. But I was astounded! Another 10 days and if you look closely you can see the mended shell. (And so much more new growth added for good measure. T1 just keeps on growing!)

I do not recommend dropped snail. If the shell had broken in the middle, the outcome may not have been so good. But how amazing is the intricate detail in creation; that snails can mend a broken shell?

Poetry Peeps and blog followers may recognise that this poem is inspired by some similar poems posted recently – though it doesn’t conform to the form. You can read ‘What a Snail Knows’ and ‘What a Snail Does NOT Know’ here.

Poets know that you will find the link-up to today’s PoetryFriday at Linda’s blog; TeacherDance. Thank-you, Linda!